A report released today recommends that the Welsh and UK Governments uphold the Development Consent Order (DCO) for Hinkley Point C, an order which will help preserve the Severn Estuary ecosystem. 

With evidence provided by innovative British technology company Fish Guidance Systems, the report, written by the Hinkley Point C Stakeholder Reference Group to the Welsh Government, states:

‘The original requirements of the Hinkley Development Consent Order permissions must be upheld to avoid any significant adverse short-term or long term effect upon the features of the Severn Estuary. In particular, there should be no weakening of the Development Consent Order requirements for an Acoustic Fish Deterrent.’

Hinkley Point C, a nuclear power station currently under construction on the Somerset coast, incorporates a cooling water system designed under current best practice and, according to the DCO, must include the installation of an acoustic fish deterrent (AFD).This would guide fish away from the plant’s water intakes to protect them from harm.

In 2019 EDF Energy issued an application to the secretary of state to make a material change and remove the requirement to install an AFD from the Hinkley Point C DCO. 

This was initially upheld by the Environment Agency and is now going to public consultation. 

The report estimates 182 million fish, or 37 tonnes, will die per year if an AFD is not installed. The AFD is required to make the fish protection system work because it deters fragile fish (such as sprat and shad) that will die if they come into contact with the fish return system at the end of the power station’s two vast cooling tunnels. 

David Lambert, Managing Director of Fish Guidance Systems said: “We were delighted to share evidence and answer questions from the Hinkley Point C Stakeholder Reference Group. The protection of our local ecosystems, especially in the face of climate change, is of paramount importance and is something Fish Guidance Systems has been working on for the last 25 years.”

He added: “182 million fish a year is an almost unfathomable number. Fish are often underrepresented when it comes to habitat protection. I believe if nearly 200 million birds were being killed by a single power generation plant every year, then systems equivalent to an AFD would be installed without hesitation.”